United States names Hamas leader as terrorist

Tunnel workers taking time off to pray on the Gaza side of Rafah

The Treasury Department also added Haniyeh to its sanctions blacklist that freezes any USA -based assets he might have and bans any individual or company from engaging in business transactions with him.

Haniyeh, leader and chief of the Political Bureau of Hamas, was designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) together with three other groups.

The U.S. has added the leader of Hamas to its list of worldwide terrorists, ratcheting up pressure on the Islamic terror group.

The movement's leaders said they considered the USA decision as "ridiculous".

The United States on Wednesday added the head of Hamas's political arm to its terrorist list in a move likely to raise already-soaring tensions in the region.

"Today's actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities", he added, making the USA the first country besides Israel to designate Haniyeh as a terrorist.

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Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qasem said that listing Ismail Haneya on the list of terrorists is 'a failed attempt to keep pressure on the Palestinian armed resistance, Xinhua reported.

The State Department similarly designated three groups - two Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups, and one Iranian-backed group - as terrorists. On the designation of Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra, Mr Schanzer noted that "these two groups meet criteria for terrorism" following the attacks for which they claimed responsibility last summer.

"Today's actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities", he added.

According to Newsweek, he's also said to have ties to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a proxy group of Iran, as well as its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. "We affirm that it will not prevent our people and its leaders from continuing their legitimate struggle and exercising their natural right to defend their occupied land". Iran also provides backing for the group.

In a major break with decades of U.S. policy, Trump announced on December 6 that the U.S. formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Christopher Sparks is a veteran journalist who has worked for metropolitan and community newspapers in New York City, Washington, D.C., upstate New York and Florida.